REINSW has warned property managers to keep an eye out for suspicious messages after a suspected email fraud was reported by a member.
A member recently reported being defrauded of nearly $1,500 after responding to an email from a supposed landlord with details about their new bank account.
The member updated the details and paid rent into the new bank account, but it wasn’t long before the member realised that the email was not sent by the real landlord, REINSW said on its website.
Police are investigating the incident, and the institute has warned PMs to be vigilant in all their dealings with landlords, especially digitally.
The member reported that the email came from the same address the landlord used to communicate with them usually, therefore they did not expect foul play.
The bookkeeper dealing with the account even sent the fake landlord the forms required to switch bank accounts, and they were returned with a signature that matched forms signed previously by the real landlord.
Since the incident, the PM in question said they are updating their protocols to include phone calls to landlords who contact the office asking to change bank accounts.
After a $50,000 cyber fraud attack against an agency in Western Australian, the WA Consumer Protection commissioner recommended agents manually input bank account details for electronic payments, rather than relying on pre-entered lists.
REINSW’s Property Management Chapter Committee will be discussing best practice measures to prevent online fraud at its next meeting.